The Work of Naomi Long Madgett

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“The Starlit Poetry of Naomi Long Madgett”


Edited Poetry Anthologies


* Out of Print

Anthologies and Textbooks

Madgett’s work has been included in more than 180 anthologies and textbooks as early as The Poetry of the Negro, 1746 – 1949, edited by Langston Hughes and Arne Bontemps (Doubleday, 1949) and as recent as Call and REsponse: the Riverside Anthology of the African American Literary Tradition (Houghton Mifflin, 1998). Poems have been translated into Italian, French, Dutch, Swedish and Norwegian Magazines and journals such as Callaloo, Essence, Ebony, Michgan Quarterly Review, Sage, Obsidian, Black Scholar, Langston Hughes Review, Witness, etc. “Images of the African Diaspora,” “Sisters of the Sun,” “First Man,” “Children of Eden,” and “The Chosen Twelve,” four poems combined with fine art by Carl Owens). A novel, a collection of critical essays, and a non-fiction book.

Related Activities

  • Recording of Poetry for the National Archives, Library of Congress, Washington, DC, 1978
  • Inaugural poem, commissioned by Mrs. William Milliken, wife of the Governor of Michigan, and read at the public ceremonies at the State Capitol, January 1, 1975


I will track you down the years,
Down the night,
Till my anguish falls away,
Star by star,
And my heart spreads flaming wings
Where you are.

I will find you, never fear-
Make you mine.
Think that you have bound me fast
To the earth?
I will rise to sing you yet,
Song of mirth.

I will let you think you won,
Perfect dream,
Till I creep from dark and toil
To your side,
Hold you to my heart and sleep,

I will track you down the sky,
Down the blue,
Till my song becomes the sun
Of the years
And the golden April rains
Are my tears…

Copyright 1965 by Naomi Long Madgett

Featured Books

You Are My Joy And Pain 

ISBN: 1234567891076 (paper)

Octavia: Guthrie and Beyond 

(paper) $15.00

Recreation of the life of an aunt the author never knew but physically resembled. Reveals the values of a turn of the century African American family with middle class values. Photos. Illustrated by

Leisia Duskin and photos

Adam of Ifé: Black Women in Praise of Black Men

(paper) $18.00

Ground-breaking anthology to which 55 black women contributed positive poems about ordinary men in their daily lives. Thoughtful introduction details the history of the emasculation of the black male. Illustrated by Carl Owens

Connected Islands: New and Selected Poems

(paper) $17.00

Examines and celebrates the bonds of family, friendship, faith, and art to show that as much as we are alone, we are together

Exits and Entrances

(paper) $5.00

Various styles and subjects indicate author’s mastery of form. Illustrated by Beverley Rose Enright

A Student’s Guide to Creative Writing (textbook)

81/2” X 11” (paper) $20.00

Appropriate for high school and college, this textbook instructs the reader on the basics of writing poetry and traditional short stories in simple, easy-to-understand language. Includes practical written exercises and examples of writing by former college students of the author. Also serves as a guide for creative writing teachers

Pilgrim Journey (autobiography) 

(cloth) $35.00

This amazing book shares with the reader the people, places, events, and circumstances that shaped the first 81years of her very productive life as poet, teacher, publisher, and editor. Illustrated with 50 photographs

Pink Ladies in the Afternoon 

(paper) $7.00

Poems on a variety of subjects with end notes

You Are My Joy and Pain is Naomi Long Madgett’s latest and possibly most endearing poetry collection. Bill Harris, a 2011 Kresge Foundation Eminent Artist, said of the book, "Even with the evidence of over a half-century or more of first-rate poetic artistry by Madgett, this collection is a breath-arresting surprise and delight. Poem-by-poem and section-by-section amaze. Each poem in the collection is a master class in technique and in her ability to transpose an idea into a tightly composed example of the craft of poetry."

You Are My Joy and Pain receives its name from the Billie Holiday song "Don’t Explain" and is divided into three parts. The first part, "A Promise of Sun," contains fourteen poems relating to the hopeful and joyful beginning of a new relationship. The second part, "Trinity: A Dream Sequence," consists of twenty poems with religious imagery and encompasses both the beginning and the end of a relationship. The third part, "Stormy Weather," includes thirty-two poems that relate to the heartbreaking experience of a love gone wrong. These are not love poems in the abstract—the richness with which Madgett writes hints at the firsthand experience of a lifetime of loving.

While several anthologies of love poems exist in the world, it is rare to find a single-author collection that so closely examines love in all of its messy and beautiful layers. Readers will identify with the hope and disappointment that Madgett presents in these poems.

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A Poet's Voice

Octavia and Other Poems

Travel back to Guthrie, Oklahoma with award-winning poet/publisher Naomi Long Madgett. Learn about a dead aunt's legacy and the coming of age of her impressionable niece. This film juxtaposes a poetry reading by Madgett, a 73-year-old African American woman, with footage of interpretive art works created by Detroit artists who were inspired by Madgett's poems. In addition to the original artwork, the film makes use of still photographs, historical film footage and music. A cameo appearance by James Earl Jones is just one of the many noteworthy moments in A Poet's Voice.

Madgett's poetry speaks with lyric tenderness about her efforts to step out of her Aunt Octavia's shadow and into her own light.

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Coretta Scott King Letter to Naomi Long Madgett

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